Organic Land Care Certificate Program

The Rutgers Organic Land Care Certificate Program provides education to landscapers and land care providers on organic practices for promoting healthy soil, enhancing biodiversity, and reducing polluted runoff from managed landscapes.

The core of the program is a 4-day annual course designed for professional landscapers, property managers, public works employees, groundskeepers, and landscape architects. The class is usually offered in the winter.

More than 20 university and industry experts share their experience of how to successfully transition a landscape to organic management and add organic services to a business.

Congratulations to the 2017 Organic Land Care
Certificate Program graduates.

2017 OLC Class

Sign up to be notified when the next class is scheduled.

Core concepts of the program:

  • "Do no harm" by protecting the natural elements of a site
  • Treating the landscape as a whole living system
  • Reducing energy, water, and material inputs
  • Practicing the law of return, such as returning grass clippings back to the lawn
  • Promoting soil health which translates to healthy plants
  • Fertilizing with naturally-occurring materials to supply essential nutrients as indicated by a soil test
  • Favoring cultural practices over chemical applications for managing pests and diseases
  • Avoiding the use of prohibited materials
  • Encouraging biodiversity and avoiding monocultures
  • Running an organic business with honesty and integrity

*Adapted from The Soil Profile Newsletter and the NOFA Organic Land Care Standards.


Sample Schedule and Speakers

Day 1

  • Organic Principles- History and Philosophy: Joseph Heckman, Extension Specialist in Soil Fertility, Rutgers
  • Pesticide Risk, Toxicity and Environmental Contamination: Roy Meyer, Former Bureau Chief, NJDEP
  • Landscaping with Edible Plants: Joseph Heckman, Extension Specialist in Soil Fertility, Rutgers
  • Physical, Chemical, Biological Aspects of Soil: Dan Kluchinski, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
  • Soil Food Web: Jennifer Adams Krumins, Associate Professor, Montclair State University

Day 2

  • Managing Abiotic Problems in the Landscape: Nick Polanin, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
  • Sustainable Landscape Design: Jan-Marie Traynor, Professor Emeritus, County College of Morris
  • Compost and Compost Tea: Michael Kolenut, President, Lincoln Landscaping
  • Incorporating Native Plants and Lawn Alternatives: Rick McCoy, President, McCoy Horticultural Services
  • Tree and Shrub Planting and Plant Care: Larry Kuser, Owner, Fernbrook Farms

Day 3

  • Lawn Installation, Fertilization, and Management: James Murphy, Extension Specialist in Turf Grass Management, and Brad Park, Sports Turf Research & Education Coordinator, Rutgers University
  • Disease Management, Trees, and Shrubs: Charles Schmitt, Former Extension Educator, Cornell University
  • Key Insect/Mite Pests of Landscape Trees & Shrubs: Steve Rettke, Ornamental IPM Program Associate, Rutgers

Day 4

  • Rain Gardens: Amy Rowe, Environmental Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
  • Business Management and Customer Communications: Chris Paul, President, Genesis Landscape Contractors
  • Organic Landscapers Panel Discussion: Steve Davidson, Earth Groomers; Barry Draycott, Tech Terra Environmental; Keith Haitz, HydroGreen; Mike Kolenut, Rick McCoy, and Chris Paul
  • Exam, pesticide recertification form distribution, program evaluation

tree and shrub plant care


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences